This past weekend I was very fortunate to be able to travel to Munich, Germany.  What I thought was going to be your average study abroad experience ended up actually serving as a wakeup call.

After spending the first day getting our tourist fix by exploring the city and seeing all the beautiful things that Munich has to offer, we decided to spend a day at Oktoberfest.  Ironically, this ended up being the most touristy thing we did all weekend!  Oktoberfest, if you’re unfamiliar, is the world’s largest fair held annually in Munich, Germany, where more than six million people from around the world congregate during the last weekend of September through the first weekend in October to celebrate and honor the Bavarian culture.  For a brief history of Oktoberfest, check out Jeff Burkhart’s article from the Marin Independent Journal.



Photo courtesy of Flickr user Claudia.

For American students studying abroad…Oktoberfest is the MECCA of social media material.  It only took until Sunday afternoon for my Facebook application on my iPhone to buzz me telling me I had been tagged in countless photos.  Furthermore, it only took a few hours into our time being there for my Instragram application to buzz telling me someone had taken a photo of me.  At Oktoberfest, social media essentially served as a platform for American study abroad students to share the fun activities they are engaging in with the rest of the cyber world.  It almost serves as a second means of gaining satisfaction from the weekend – one being actually having fun at Oktoberfest and two being the reliving of the fun when everyone can review their photos on social media that were recorded from the weekend.  I unfortunately did not get a chance to meet many local Germans at the fair but from what I observed, it seemed as though the American tourists were the only people with their phones out snapping pictures and uploading them to social media websites during Oktoberfest while the locals could simply enjoy their time there without having to record every second of it for the world to see.  Perhaps this is because they can visit Oktoberfest any year that they want…or perhaps we are left with the sad truth that Americans might just be too caught up in how the world perceives them on social media…


Featured image photo courtesy of Flickr user Pete Slater.


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